Thursday, 24 May 2012

Off to Chartres!

The time has come, the bags are packed, the horses are hitched up in the stable yard (well not really, but the train to London is in a couple of hours...) and we are off to Chartres.

Antonia, Dominique and I are the lucky ones this year.  Bernie and Charlie are both snagged by exams (University and GCSE respectively) but are bravely wishing us well.  Anna is not coming - never has and probably never will (though I keep praying...)

So we stay with some friends in London tonight, then meet the other english Pilgrims for Mass at Westminster Cathedral (in the crypt, EF)  tomorrow morning at 7.00 am.  Then it's on to the bus to Paris.

The full pilgrimage of some 8,000 (I think) meets at Notre Dame de Paris at 6.00 am, and this year, for only the second time in the history of the (modern) pilgrimage, we start with Mass in ND de Paris (EF again -  you get the picture).

And then we walk - and sing and pray and talk and listen to meditations and have our confessions heard - and walk and walk.  Some 30 miles later, we arrive at a huge makeshift campsite, collect our hot soup and bread from the catering teams, and bivvy down for the night.

Along the way I will remember all those who visit this blog in my prayers.

On Pentecost Sunday, we rise with the larks (typically woken at 5.30 by the Hallelujah Chorus blasted through the campsite PA system), and repeat the exercise - stopping in the middle of the day for a magnificent Pentecost Mass on a temporary but resplendent altar set up in the French countryside.

Finally, on the Monday, we march into Chartres, for the final Mass in Chartres Cathedral.

Then we tend our sore feet, soothe our aching limbs, and resolve to do it again next year.

Finally there's a convivial dinner for the English Chapters, the first bed for what seems like an age, and the bus back to London the next day.

So pencil it in your diary for next year: it's always Pentecost weekend, so boo early to avoid disappointment.